Sunday, May 9, 2010

The semester of reviews and shit.

alright dicks, i haven't done shit with this in a while. I don't have any stand out ideas as to what to write about, but i did write about music for MTSU's newspaper. I'll post my outrageously opinionated reviews here. there's four of them and then a bonnaroo preview article I wrote with Emma Egli (she's so cool!)

These are the versions of the reviews before those know-it-all-editors got a hold of them and tamed them like a bitch lion. jerks.

anyways, i'll entertain you first with my MGMT review. enjoy.

MGMT scored big with their 2007 release Oracular Spectacular. Their big hit, “Electric Feel”, was heard everywhere. Record stores, Barnes & Noble and even Big Ten fraternity houses. So what did the band decide to do? Follow up their sensation with a single-less, pop-deprived artistic collection of songs called Congratulations. The new record, produced by Peter Kember, is a down beat psycho-folk jam that plays devils advocate with your ears. In an interview with the NME, MGMT’s founding duo Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser stated that they were trying to make an album for the album’s sake so listeners don’t “just figure out what are the best three tracks, download those and not listen to the rest of it.” They certainly did just that.

While MGMT didn’t create a total disaster, they did make something far less substantial than their debut. Most of the song are boring and something that resembles a 12-year-old on acid with a keyboard and an acoustic guitar.

After several hours of listening to the album, it was rare that I found my self skipping around to different tracks. It all works together; the ebb and the flow of the album makes it slightly more accessible. The opening track, “It’s Working,” holds a heavy beat as VanWyngarden wonders aloud if his first acid trip is in effect. The song bares a striking resemblance to ‘80s mega-hit “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls, just with a downplayed hook.

The lone “single” on the album, “Flash Delirium”, is an a weird excuse for a single. The song doesn’t stay in one place long enough during its 4 minutes for you to remember anything about it, other than it’s playful pan flute bridge. While this is cute for a while, it starts to get out of hand. If “Flash Delirium” plays out like a fun songwriting mix and match, then the 12-minute “Siberian Breaks” is a childish psychedelic mess. It’s seems as if the band had a whole bunch of wacky song ideas and threw them together. It worked for the Beatles, but for MGMT, it doesn’t work it the slightest as music to actively listen to. It’s steady stream of mediocre indie elevator music. This is Congratulations at it’s worst.

At it’s best, however, it’s an artistic take on ‘80s electronica. A later track, “Brian Eno,” seems to be the most accessible song on the record. It’s a upbeat rocker about the everlasting influence and genius that is Brian Eno. VanWyngarden puts it best when he describes the track to New York Magazine as a “kind of a vampire-punk-rock song about finding Brian Eno in like a cathedral in Transylvania. He’s like a dark wizard.”

Even with all the strange acid freak-outs on the record, the weirdest moment is the closing title track. This introspective look on fame is a lightly synthesized version of what The Band might have done in the ‘60s. You can’t help but feel a little awkward with their views on the success of their first album when VanWyngarden sings, “But damn my luck and damn these friends…lay down the quilt upon the lawn. Spread my arms and soak up congratulations.” It certainly doesn’t sit right with me.

MGMT is being difficult here on Congratulations, and it’s annoying. I understand they’re trying to fend away the shallow single fiends from “Oracular Spectacular,” but this is a bit overboard. Congratulations is for the most part one huge bore. Sorry MGMT, intentional lack of effort doesn’t work like that. You didn’t get famous because of music like this, and you certainly won’t stay famous with music like this. Hopefully LP3 will be somewhere in the middle of their first two releases. Until then, best keep spinning Oracular Spectacular.

Recommended if you like

-Pink Floyd - “Obscured By Clouds”

-The Flaming Lips - “Embryonic”


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